Canadian telematics company Intelligent Mechatronic Systems (IMS) is now offering hands-free access to e-mail with iLane, a device about the size of a PDA that uses Bluetooth short-range wireless technology and a voice-based interface to notify the driver of incoming e-mail messages, according to CIO Today
. The driver can listen to the entire e-mail, forward it or compose a response; and handle meeting requests using verbal commands. The system also handles phone calls and text messages, CIO Today
reports.As for concerns about driver distraction, iLane product manager Ben Miners conceded that iLane falls into that category but in fact is a safe alternative to using a handheld keypad, like those found on BlackBerries and PDAs. Researchers at the University of Utah found not only that cell phone users were five times more likely to get in an accident than drivers not talking on the phone, but also that the risk is about the same for drivers with a .08 percent blood-alcohol level, the threshold adopted by most states in determining impairment. So far, three states -- New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut -- and the District of Columbia have passed laws requiring a hands-free device be used when talking while driving.